How To Check Your Live Christmas Tree for Pests This Season - Home & Texture
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Avoid Unwanted Holiday Guests: How To Check Your Christmas Tree for Pests

December 16, 2023 at 8:25 AM PST

Purchasing a real Christmas tree is a cherished tradition for many during the holiday season. However, it’s important to be aware that these natural beauties can sometimes bring unwanted guests into your home—pests. From tiny insects burrowed in the branches to critters nestled among the pine needles, these pests can turn holiday cheer into a nuisance. Luckily, Emma Grace Crumbley, an entomologist with Mosquito Squad, has shared her expert advice with Home & Texture on how to keep these pests from invading your home this season.

family searching for real Christmas tree
Photo Credit: Any Lane

Why should you check your tree? In colder weather, insects seek warm places to hide, and your Christmas tree could be an inviting shelter for them. Crumbley explains that pests in pine trees can burrow in the wood, build webs along branches, lay eggs near the trunk, or find refuge in pine needles. It’s crucial to thoroughly inspect a live tree before bringing it into your home.

Wood Destroying Insects (WDIs)

Certain pests, known as wood-destroying insects (WDIs), such as termites, beetles, and carpenter ants, can be found in pine trees. Look for signs of these pests, like holes in the tree or clumps of sap, which indicate their presence. While these insects won’t harm your home’s structure, they can still be a source of stress. Crumbley advises not to bring home trees showing signs of insect damage.

branches of live Christmas tree
Photo Credit: Irina Iriser

Plant Pests

These are different from WDIs and are more interested in the sap and needles of the tree. Common plant pests include aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and pine sawflies. These pests might cause your tree to lose needles faster and look less festive. Crumbley notes that bringing the tree inside protects these pests from natural predators, allowing them to thrive.

Hitchhikers/Accidental Invaders

Some bugs may land on your tree by accident. These can include seed bugs, stink bugs, and even ladybugs. While they may flee on their own, you can give the tree a shake or brush through the branches as a precaution. If these insects enter your home, they can be a slight nuisance.

family cutting down Christmas tree
Photo Credit: Any Lane

Nests & Webs

Crumbley emphasizes the importance of checking for webs and nests on your tree, which can be from spiders or moths, wasp nests, or praying mantis egg cases. Remove these before bringing the tree inside to prevent an infestation.

What To Do If Insects Invade Your Home

If pests do make it into your home with your tree, Crumbley advises identifying the pest, removing it (using a vacuum cleaner for a mess-free solution), inspecting the tree for further pests or damage, and considering removing the tree if the problem persists. She cautions against using pesticides indoors without careful consideration.



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